On 6th July 2012 in Brussels, the European Commission set up the
European RPAS Steering Group (ERSG) formed by representatives of
the major European Institutions (EASA, SESAR, Eurocontrol, ESA,
EDA, EUROCAE, JARUS) and industry. The European Commission has
adopted the acronym RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) in lieu
of UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicles) in accordance with ICAO Circular
328 of 2011.
The objective of the Steering Group is to foster the development
of the civil RPAS by planning and coordinating all the activities
necessary to achieve the safe insertion of RPAS into the European
Air Traffic by 2016.
Probably, the decision of the European Commission represents a
reaction to the US Act of January 2012, which allocates three
billion dollars for the same objective of the ERSG. In practice,
the European Commission is trying to speed up the process of having
RPAS flying in the common airspace by 2016 before the United States
in order to fix the world international standards and procedures.
This objective is strongly supported by the European Industry
(EADS, BAE System, Dassault, Finmeccanica, Thalès, Indra),
which have produced till now excellent prototypes but needs to open
the market of RPAS for civil use through their insertion in the
common airspace. Contrary to United States, the European Commission
hasn't allocated any money in the ERSG project.
Also for RPAS the key element is safety. In the past, funds have
been destined to R&D of anti-collision systems (Detect &
Avoid) and telecommunications, which represent the technology
capable to assure the same safety standards of manned aircraft.
Certification and complementary measures (liability, privacy, data
protection and societal impact) are the other matters that ERSG
will study to produce for the European Commission a series of
deliverables containing the actions to be taken from now to
In this context, on 2nd August 2012 the Italian Civil
Aviation Authority (ENAC) has issued a communication (Nota
Informativa) for the release of a "Permit to fly" for
experimental activity of RPAS.
To obtain the release of the "Permit to fly", the
operator must supply ENAC for a series of information regarding:
its organisation, the description of RPA in all its parts,
operating system and payload (sensors) installed, safety analysis,
ground station configuration, data-link. Such data will allow ENAC
to understand any details of the project to release the
"Permit to fly" for experimental activity in segregated
areas, over non-populated areas, in Visual Line Of Sight
This communication is addressed especially to the producers of
small RPAS below 150 kg. whose marked has already developed being
subject to the provisions established by the National Aviation
Authorities and not to EASA as established by the EU
The initiative of the Italian CAA seems in line with the
objective of the European Commission to speed up the insertion of
RPAS into the common airspace, especially the small RPAS. Other
countries, like the UK, have since a few years issued similar
provisions to facilitate the use of RPAS for civil use, in
particular for civil protection, fire fighting, coastal
surveillance, road traffic monitoring and criminal prevention.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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